May 10, 2013

The age of Christian persecution

We are in an age of Christian persecution.  Just ask any conservative Christian, and they will suggest that their values are under attack, that they are unwelcome for their views, and they are on the verge of actual persecution.  Facebook will light up with stories of supposed persecution--"did you hear about the one where the house church was closed down?"  Or the more recent one:  "Obama has the military prosecuting Christians for proselytizing."  Never mind that isn't true, it fits a narrative that my Christian conservative friends prefer.

I remember that narrative from my youth.  Our churches often talked about the passage where Jesus said that we would be hated.  And that is usually quoted when Christians are criticized for a stance; such as their opposition to same-sex marriage.  Or when former NBA player Chris Broussard said that recently outed player Jason Collins wasn't a "real Christian" as an openly gay man, and received his share of criticism for that statement.  For my Christian conservative friends, that is proof that Christians can be called names just for their beliefs.  Or, as Louis Gohmert said last weekend, we are in an age where the liberals are the most intolerant of all, and where the only acceptable intolerance is toward Christians.

This persecution complex is hard to take seriously, I must say.  But some of this is because historically Christianity enjoyed a special place in our public square.  That wasn't really correct or constitutional to do so, but it occurred.  Schools led sectarian prayers, and Christians dominated political discourse for most of America's history.  When you drill into that, btw, you will find a lot of conflict that most today don't remember--for example, that Protestants were early proponents of public education because of their opposition to Catholic parochial schools.

But however you slice it, Christianity is no longer the only game in town.  It no longer gets to dominate that public square.  But that isn't persecution.  I don't care if a school has a "Spring celebration" rather than Easter or if a local vendor says "Happy Holidays "  That isn't persecution.  That also means that when you call homosexuality an abomination or antithetical to Christianity, you are going to get criticized.  That isn't because you are closer to Jesus.  It is because a good many people, including a lot of Christians, find that attitude bigoted toward our gay friends.  And no, saying you have a gay friend doesn't erase the bigotry.  Haraldsson has a pretty good take on that here.

But hidden in it is this gem:
Blake also cites the examples of Edward Johnson, a communication professor at Campbell University in North Carolina, “[who] says we are now living in a ‘postmodern’ era where everything is relative and there is no universally accepted truth. It’s an environment in which anyone who says ‘this is right’ and ‘that is wrong’ is labeled intolerant, he says.
Look beyond the persecution complex to the idea that truth is relative.  Don't you find it funny that the people who are claiming universal truth and calling things "right" and "wrong" are the same ones who respond to evolution with "were you there?"  Or talk about evolution and climate change as issues of faith rather than science.  Issues, of course, where they believe they can decide that facts are not facts and they don't believe them to be facts?


No comments: